Instagram's Latest 2021 Update Forecasts Video-Forward Social Media

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With the tidal wave that is TikTok, it’s no surprise that other social media networks have moved to compete with the new kid in town. Since coming to US platforms in 2017, TikTok’s quick video format and highly addictive recommended section has snagged the attention of viewers everywhere. In fact, in the summer of 2021, TikTok is reporting roughly one billion monthly active users, and that 70% of US teens use TikTok at least once a month.

With TikTok showing clear success in its video sharing model, 10-year-old social platform Instagram has been updating their app to keep up with the video trend. In August of 2020, Instagram introduced Reels: Their version of quick, 15-to-30 second edited videos (similar to the style of a TikTok video).

But apparently Reels was not their only step towards video. In a June 2021 news update, Instagram head Adam Mosseri announced that Instagram is completely shifting its focus and functionality towards, you guessed it, video.

Person holding a phone with Instagram open on the screen

Breaking Down Instagram’s Anticipated Update

In a transparent video on Twitter, Mosseri stated that “We are no longer a photo-sharing app.” Through Instagram’s own internal research, their team has discovered that the number one reason users reported coming to the app was to be “entertained.” In order to best meet that desire for entertainment, Instagram is moving to provide more, more, and more of just that to its users.

As Mosseri explained in his video, Instagram will be growing to focus on and expand four key areas: creators, video, shopping, and messaging. In terms of creators, Instagram will be finding ways to help individual creators on the platform make a living. For shopping, Mosseri explained that the pandemic has created a larger push for online shopping, which Instagram plans to lean into. With messaging, Instagram has noticed in the past five years that people have moved from connecting publicly on their stories and feeds to privately on messaging, which Instagram will capitalize on.

In his announcement, however, he primarily talked about their move to increasing their video opportunities. Mosseri rationalized that “Video is driving an immense amount of growth online for all the major platforms right now.” (This statement is absolutely true—88% of video marketers report that video gives them a positive return on investment.) Mosseri went on to state that TikTok and YouTube are major competitors for Instagram’s entertainment-driven goals.

Now, what was once a “photo-sharing app” will be seeing many new updates over the coming months. In his video, Mosseri promised we’ll start to see:

  • Recommendations. Traditionally, your Instagram feed was filled with content from other users and creators you directly followed. Soon, Instagram will start showing you content from users you don’t follow but their algorithm believes you would be interested in.
  • Topics. Somewhat like Twitter Topics, as Instagram rolls out Recommendations, you will be able to tell Instagram what Topics you want to see more of and less of in order to customize your feed.
  • Embracing video. Instagram is promising to embrace video more broadly. Mosseri explained they will experiment with full-screen video, and they will be finding ways to make video more immersive, entertaining, and mobile-first.

Mosseri concluded his video saying that no matter what, we should expect lots of change over the next six months on Instagram, but as they develop these changes, Instagram will continue this trend of transparency and explain to their users what they are doing and why.

A photo of Instagram stories

What Instagram’s Update Means for Social Media Strategies

If you work in social media, every algorithm update, functionality change, or new popular app means a shift in how you do your day-to-day work. (Working in social media truly means something different every morning, are we right?)

Instagram’s latest update should be taken as a forecast: The video storm is here. Instead of raining cats and dogs, it’s raining clicks and views. In order to weather this storm, it’s imperative that you intentionally incorporate video into your social media strategy.

TikTok’s popularity and Instagram’s push for video-forward social media—and even Twitter’s 2021 video update, Fleets—is a very clear sign that video is no longer a suggestion, it’s a must. In anticipation of Instagram’s update, your social media strategy should start updating today to incorporate consistent video content on all of your social media platforms.

Not sure where to start? Here’s our social media strategy action item list to help you jump on these changes:

  1. If you’re not already, consider getting on a video-friendly social media platform like TikTok, YouTube, or Instagram to boost your social media engagement.
  2. Invest in video making and marketing classes/courses for your social media manager to ensure quality video content. (We love classes on Skillshare and Udemy.)
  3. Develop ideas for industry-relevant videos for your company. Some successful video types for businesses include product features, behind-the-scenes videos, before-and-after videos, how-to videos, and educational videos. (Learn more about how to be an educator on social media in this informative blog post.)
  4. Adjust your weekly schedule to make space for video creation. On average, video production takes far longer than making photo and text posts. You will need to adjust your strategy to incorporate time, time, and more time.
  5. Create a backlog of video content before launching video officially into your strategy so that there is no lag or gap between video posting. Posting a video once a week is a good starting point to ease this practice into your social plan. Once you have your backlog, start posting. If you really get the hang of video, slowly increase from once a week to what you and your team can handle.
  6. Let your audience, consumers, and customers know you are making video content through an official announcement. Spread the information through social media, email updates, newsletters, and website updates. Actually telling people what you are doing/changing will help capture their attention in the long run. (See our blog post all about using the power of networking to increase your social media presence.)
A picture of someone taking a video on their phone

Apps You Can Use to Start Making Videos Today

If you're new to video, it might be hard to jump straight into Adobe Premiere (a highly advanced, industry darling video editor.) When it comes to making social media videos, thankfully, oftentimes you just need your phone and a trusty video editing app.

While TikTok and Instagram Reels do let you directly edit inside of the app, we have a few quick, easy-to-use, and beginner friendly video editors that we also enjoy:

Lumen 5

A basic, yet useful, video maker, Lumen 5 is truly a beginner’s best friend. Lumen sets its editor up to almost look like a Powerpoint presentation as the user is able to drag and drop images and video clips into square frames. Lumen allows you to add music, video clips, text, and watermarks to your video while boasting a large gallery of stock videos and images at your disposal.

The best feature Lumen has to offer, however, is its ability to take an article or blog script and use its AI technology to create an automatic video. While you may have to go in and edit a few slides, this feature makes video creation go that much faster.

Wave

A step up from Lumen 5 is Wave. Just like Lumen, you can create and edit videos, add music, text, watermarks, and more to your videos—all while having a large gallery of stock content to grab from if you need it. Wave even has great templates to choose from, and every video can be changed to have custom dimensions to fit whatever app you are creating for.

Where Wave differs from Lumen is in its control. Instead of editing through a slide-show functionality, you work on a timeline (which is a little more advanced but offers more fine-tuned editing). Plus, whereas Lumen limits where you can put elements such as text on the frame, Wave lets you move text, graphics, and the like wherever you want them to be on your screen. Once you’re a little more comfortable making social media videos, Wave is a great tool for you.

Canva

While many of us know Canva for making beautiful designs and images, you can absolutely make simple videos on Canva. In addition to their illustrations and templates, Canva now has animations you can add to a social post that can be saved/downloaded as a video file (or even as a GIF). For example, adding an animated arrow to a design you made on Canva now turns that image post into a video post, making using Canva an easy “video hack” for your social media strategy.

Here at Eternity, we sometimes use Canva to make “panels” in stop-motion videos or text-based videos that we download and later edit in an app like Lumen or Wave. You can see an example of a simple, yet effective, text video we made for our client Brave Coffee here.

No matter what you make or how you make it, one thing is for sure: video is here to stay. In order to stay on top of these 2021 social media trends, our social media strategies must start adapting to fit into this video-forward world. Here at Eternity, we’re excited to see what these foretold Instagram updates will hold, but for now, as we wait, we’re going to start making our backlog of videos. 

Looking to connect with us on social media? You can see what we’re doing with video on our TikTok and Instagram. We can’t wait to connect with you.

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